Happy New Year 2013!

Happy New Year!

2013 is finally here. We’ve enjoyed a lot of success and opportunities for positive changes this past year. At the same time, we’ve survived hardships, heartbreaks, even the supposed end of the world.

Now, cliche as it is, we have so much to look forward to this coming year. There’s so much to be done for ourselves and for others. We have a whole year to move on and move forward, to renew and strengthen our ties, and to follow our dreams and hopes.

I don’t have a lot of wise or enlightening words to impart for you, except this: No matter what happens, never give up hope. It is the basis of all journeys. It is what makes the journeys worthwhile. Even if situations become drastic, hope is the strongest anchor we can use to pull through, weather the storms of life, and live the life we want and deserve.

So much for being the wise guy here. At least I can give you something to work on. I hope to see you all do well and reach your goals this year. Have a great 2013!
(Reposting from my New Year message to my friends on Facebook)

Episode 41: My Homemade Adobong Baboy Ramo

Some time ago, I got hold of some wild boar meat (“baboy ramo”) from an officemate. He said it’s a good opportunity for me to try some, since exotic meat like wild boar is hard to come by in the usual wet market. He also said eating wild boar meat will be something like a new step for me towards culinary enlightenment.

It took me about a month before I could cook the wild boar meat, though, since my stove ran out of fuel, and I didn’t have the time to cook for long periods in the first place. (Yeah, I felt lazy for quite some time.) Also, I don’t really know how exactly to cook wild boar meat, or so I thought. And so the meat stayed in the freezer for a while.

Wild boar is one of those animals whose meat is considered to be exotic, ironically in the same level as deer (venison), snakes, frogs, and even dogs. It’s hard to come by except in beerhouses and exotic meat shops in the provinces.

In certain parts of the US and other countries, though, people hunt wild boar and even have recipes for storing and cooking it. Most of the time, they stew, smoke, or roast wild boar. The difference here is that wild boar is mostly bred with domestic pigs. Incidentally, some claim they’re easier to raise and breed, and the profits are nice.

I was worried that my meat would smell bad by the time I decided to cook it. Luckily, it didn’t spoil so quickly after being in the freezer for so long.  It must be because my batch of wild boar was delivered to me smoked, which is a good way to preserve it. Maybe I wrong about the “smoked” part, but never mind.

My officemate’s suggestion was to sauté it in butter and onions, or to cook it like beef or pork steak. I stuck with an easier recipe: adobong baboy ramo.

First I had the meat thawed and washed in cold water. What I got, by the way, were bite-sized strips of smoked meat, which is a good thing since they’re easier to cook.

I then marinated the meat in equal parts of Datu Puti soy sauce and Datu Puti vinegar (one and a half cup each) with five pieces of laurel leaves, two tablespoons of peppercorns, and five garlic cloves. I also added a few pieces of chopped chili pepper and potatoes for good measure.

I marinated the meat inside the ref for one hour, but I ended up cooking it only after three (just in time for dinner).Off to the stove it went to simmer for about fifteen minutes, or until the sauce was thick. I also added two boiled eggs as extenders.

The finished product went to the dinner table (read: multi-purpose computer desk) with a bowl of hot steamed rice and a big bottle of iced tea, and Ryback’s theme “Meat On the Table” playing in the background.

Adding potatoes in the marinade was a big mistake. The potatoes got too sour, and I had to mash them over rice to weaken the taste. The resulting adobo-flavored potato rice tasted great, though.

All in all, my spicy home-style wild boar adobo was a success.

Wild boar meat is dry and almost beef-like in texture, but it’s just as easy to chew. It’s more flavorful than pork, and this batch had a smoky aftertaste. It’s also lean and less fatty (the batch I got, at least), so I guess it’s a healthy choice.

On the other hand, some say wild boar is just as bland as domesticated pork, and it’s the storing and cooking process that gives it an extra flavor. On the other hand, maybe they didn’t smoke the meat after all, and it naturally tastes that way. Now that I’ve mentioned it, I’m still curious about cooking wild boar meat with butter, but it will take a while before I could try it out.

I have much to learn about exotic meats, but for now, I’ll just put this experience with wild boar in the gastronomical trophy room in my mind, along with the dog meat from Baguio, the roasted snails from Vietnam, and the frog’s legs, among others.

(I think I’m going to dedicate this post to Lalaine Santiago, one of our family friends. When she tweeted me about my adobong baboy ramo, I felt like I wasn’t able to answer her properly. There’s something about wild boar that’s hard to explain and differentiate from the usual pork. So there.)